According to experts, sleep disturbances associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are difficult to treat and can lead to drug and alcohol abuse and even suicide. A new study reports an inexpensive, widely available drug can help reduce symptoms in chronic PTSD patients.
Previously, there has been little success in treating these sleep disorders with psychopharmacologic approaches.
In a placebo-controlled, blinded study of 40 veterans of the Vietnam War (32 subjects), World War II (2), the Korean War (3), the Panama invasion (1) and the first Gulf War (2), prazosin was significantly more effective than placebo in reducing trauma nightmares, improving sleep quality and improving the general clinical condition of the treated patients.
Subjects were assessed using three primary outcome measures, the CAPS “recurrent distressing dreams” item, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC). The CAPS “recurrent distressing dreams” item measures frequency and intensity of trauma-related distressing dreams.
The PSQI is a self-report scale assessing sleep quality and sleep disturbance. The CGIC is an investigator rated assessment of change in global clinical status, which was defined in this study as sense of well-being and ability to function in daily activities.
Improvements in all three measures were observed, with 71 percent of the subjects receiving prazosin having “moderately or markedly improved” CGIC scores at the end of the study, compared to 12 percent of those receiving placebo.
Writing in the April 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, Murray A. Raskind, MD, states, “These results support the therapeutic use of prazosin for PTSD in combat veterans who present with trauma nightmares and sleep disturbance. Clinical experience suggests that prazosin also is beneficial for PTSD trauma nightmares and sleep disturbance in young civilian trauma victims, young veterans of the current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and in elderly World War II and Korean War combat veterans and Holocaust survivors.”
Source: Elsevier Health Sciences